Cemex rezoning request denied
- Published: December 22, 2011
Last week Xenia Township Trustees voted down a request from Cemex to rezone land the company owns southwest of Yellow Springs that would have allowed the company to construct a new quarry there. The township action brings at least a temporary halt to a plan that stirred passionate opposition from neighbors of the proposed quarry.
“We’re very satisfied with the results, but our residents know it’s only temporary” said Pete Waltz, a neighbor who was a key organizer of other residents potentially affected by the quarry, who include those who live on Hyde Road east of 235 and on the west side of West Enon Road southwest of the village.
Opponents of the rezoning proposal said they were taken by surprise by last week’s decision. During the first step of the rezoning process, the Xenia Township Zoning Commission had approved the Cemex request before sending it on to the township trustees. While the trustees held several public meetings seeking citizen input, they had not at those meetings discussed their own opinions of the rezoning request. Xenia Township Trustee Jim Reed, who was one of the two out of three trustees to vote no on the rezoning, declined a request to explain his vote.
At issue is a 289-acre plat of land located east of State Route 235, south of Hyde Road and west of West Enon Road. Residents of about 50 homes near the land organized in opposition to the rezoning request, with more than 100 people showing up to voice concerns at an early public meeting, according to Dawn Falleur, a member of the Green Environmental Coalition and an opponent of the rezoning. Cemex owns the land, which is currently zoned agricultural. Residents opposed the rezoning due to concerns about increased noise, shaking, dust, falling property values and the risk related to a gas line that runs close to the property, according to GEC President Vickie Hennessy.
At the time of the rezoning request last summer, a Cemex spokesperson stated the company planned to abide by all noise regulations, and also to construct a tunnel under SR 235 so that the trucks hauling rocks would not damage local roads.
In response to last week’s decision, Cemex issued a press release stating that, “Cemex is disappointed with the Board’s decision. The Cemex team takes great care to ensure the safety, health and well-being of our neighbors in the Xenia Township community and will continue with our effors to minimize the footprint and potential impacts of our operations.”
Opponents of the rezoning consider their victory to be temporary because at an earlier public hearing a Cemex official stated that if the request was turned down, the company would possibly ask Fairborn to annex the land in question, which would then be under the jurisdiction of the Bath Township Trustees rather than Xenia, and again seek the rezoning. Asked if the company planned to follow this route, Cemex spokesperson Sara Engdahl declined to answer specifically, but said, “Cemex is looking at all options.”
According to township trustee Reed, Cemex could also reapply for a zoning change next June, which is a year after the initial request.
Cemex, the Fairborn-based cement plant, is one of the largest cement producing companies in the world. Community residents have tangled with Cemex over a variety of matters, beginning a decade ago when Cemex initially brought to the county the same rezoning request, which was turned down, according to Falleur. In recent years, citizens have protested the company’s plan to burn tires, which was later dropped. Cemex was fined $1.4 million by the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, earlier this year for violations to the Clean Air Act.